We all know that you must love your friends, and love those who love you. We know that you can’t let people get away with slapping you in the face. We know that when someone takes something away from you, steps must be taken to have the stolen goods returned. We know that when you lend someone something, you expect them to pay it back. We know that criminals are to be judged, and wrongdoers are to be condemned.
Such things are obvious. They are part of the wisdom of the ages that has been passed on to us, and which we are passing on to our children.
But there is another wisdom, that revealed in God’s Son and for which we pray in the opening prayer. According to this wisdom, you are to love your enemies, bless those who curse you, give people your other cheek to slap, offer more goods to those who are taking things from you, lend without expecting repayment, and go through life without judging or condemning anyone. This is the wisdom Jesus challenges us with in his sermon.
“Faith in your word is the way to wisdom.” How much “faith” are we to put in Jesus’ words? Are we to take them literally, or at least very seriously? What would happen if Christians everywhere were to base their lives on such wisdom?
Jesus yielded up his life for us in perfect loving union with the Father’s will, and this is the meaning of his life which also gives meaning to our lives as his followers. If we can acknowledge selfishness as folly and self-sacrifice as victory, if we can love enemies, be vulnerable to injustice and, in being so, still say that we have triumphed, then we shall have learned to live in Christ Jesus.
US Bishops, To Live in Christ Jesus, 1976:116.